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Disaster: Day of Crisis

Ever had one of those days?

A quick tip for when naming your game. Try to avoid using words like "Failure", "Atrocity", and "The Worst Game I've Played In Years" (although I double-dare someone to use that one). It doesn't matter how good your game might be - it still invites every critic to lazily turn it against the product. So "Disaster: Day of Crisis" was Nintendo really pushing its luck.

The result, ruinously, is not a disaster. It's just a bit average. Now, had they called it, "Mishap: Day of Mediocrity" we'd have a snappy review opener. It's a mishmash of approximately nine hundred and sixteen genres, used to portray the life of Ray Bryce, Earth's unluckiest human.

Ray used to work for the International Rescue Team, a sort of FEMA, except they turn up on time. That was until a year ago when he failed to save the life of his best friend, Steve, who fell into a volcano. "You can't save them all, Ray," pleaded Steve before he fell to his crispy coated death. But Ray just couldn't accept it, and went into semi-retirement. That was until they pulled him back in!

Oh good heavens, this game employs every action movie cliché you could think of, in thick, creamy lumps. It's as if an alien being attempted to make a game about American life, but had based all their knowledge of humans on the films of Roland Emmerich. Ray was charged by Steve to give Steve's little sister a treasured compass, but Ray had been too much of a puss to do it. He then hears that some ex-Marine maverick terrorist types, SURGE, have kidnapped little sis, along with a seismologist professor colleague of hers, and are threatening to do something or other with nuclear warheads. The president needs action! Nuclear devastation is at hand! But what's this?! AN EARTHQUAKE! The West coast of America is falling to bits, and Ray's just the man to step in!

The running away game. Waggle the remote and nunchuck up and down and hope no one walks in the room.

Thus begins the unfolding gibberish that excuses the game's action. Immediately presented as a third-person action game (nunchuk to move, remote buttons to interact), it quickly reveals it's more than that. It's also a driving game (remote held sideways, steered like Excite Truck/Mario Kart), an on-rails shooter (remote pointed at the screen), and an ever-expanding collection of silly waggling mini-games (remote wobbled around in various directions, or for the running-away games, waved up and down frantically). In fact, there's so many different ways the game is played that it still throws up tutorial screens well over halfway into its 12 or so hours.

The earthquake is just the start of things. It begins a cascade of natural and not-so natural disasters that become belly-laugh-inducing as they escalate. After the second tsunami, I dare anyone not to guffaw when a local mountain decides it's time to go volcanic, and spew lava over the rural parts of the city that didn't get flooded. I then giggled my way into getting killed when Ray, while trying to escape from the lava flows and clouds of ash, gets attacked by an angry bear.

Basic First Aid Course: The Game!

If the game had been edited down to one of its core ideas, it would be about entering scenes of disasters, and rescuing trapped people. As you explore locations, Ray can "sense" people in distress (no, I promise), and through daft mini-games can recover them. So to get the guy out from under the rock, hammer A until the meter is full, then fling the remote upward. To resuscitate the dying person, waggle the remote for heart compressions, and hold buttons to perform mouth-to-mouth. Reach for dangling victims by flinging your remote-arm out to them when they grab toward you. And so on. For all your rescues you're award SP points which can be spent between levels, boosting Ray's stats.

If the game had been edited down to its other main idea, it would be about fighting enemies in a Time Crisis style, using cover and a selection of weapons, shooting the baddies with your remote gun. Offing bads gets you BP points, which can be spent between levels upgrading weapons, or buying improved ones.

If the game had been edited down to its third idea, it would be a first-person driving game, asking you to control a variety of vehicles through various hazardous terrains. Perhaps taking a four-wheel drive through a lava flow, or a beat up old wagon in a race against a big wave.

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Disaster: Day of Crisis

Nintendo Wii

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John Walker